Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

Transparent solar cells could be used to glaze office blocks

Posted by hkarner - 14. Dezember 2019

Date: 12‑12‑2019

Source: The Economist

The absorb about the same amount of light as tinted windows

Over the past few decades, photovoltaic cells have gone from being exotic and expensive power‑packs for satellites and similar high‑end applications to quotidian generating equipment for grid‑scale power stations. One area where they have not yet fulfilled their potential, though, is as local sources of electricity to keep office buildings and the like supplied with energy. The main reason is that no one has a good answer to the question: where do you put them? Roof‑top cells can power a one‑ or two‑storey house. They will not power an office block. You could array them on the walls. But office blocks tend to have high window‑to‑wall ratios and to be governed, for fire‑safety reasons, by strict rules on wall cladding.

What is left is to replace the windows themselves with solar cells. Unfortunately, commercially available solar cells are opaque to the point of blackness. But Seo Kwanyong of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, in South Korea, plans to do something about that. As he and his colleagues report this week in Joule, they have created solar cells that are as transparent as tinted glass. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The necessity of pulling carbon dioxide out of the air

Posted by hkarner - 9. Dezember 2019

Date: 05‑12‑2019

Source: The Economist

But it is difficult to do at the scale you need

Of the wisdom taught in kindergartens, few commandments combine moral balance and practical propriety better than the instruction to clear up your own mess. As with messy toddlers, so with planet‑spanning civilisations. The industrial nations which are adding alarming amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere—43.1bn tonnes this year, according to a report released this week—will at some point need to go beyond today’s insufficient efforts to stop. They will need to put the world machine into reverse, and start taking carbon dioxide out. They are nowhere near ready to meet this challenge.

Once such efforts might have been unnecessary. In 1992, at the Rio Earth summit, countries committed themselves to avoiding harmful climate change by reducing greenhouse‑gas emissions, with rich countries helping poorer ones develop without exacerbating the problem. Yet almost every year since Rio has seen higher carbon‑dioxide emissions than the year before. A staggering 50% of all the carbon dioxide humankind has put into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution was added after 1990. And it is this total stock of carbon that matters. The more there is in the atmosphere, the more the climate will shift—though climate lags behind the carbon‑dioxide level, just as water in a pan takes time to warm up when you put it on a fire. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Our books of the year

Posted by hkarner - 7. Dezember 2019

Date: 05‑12‑2019

Source: The Economist

They were about the IRA, Harper Lee’s lost work, rational economics and an Ohio housewife

Politics and current affairs

Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America. By Chris Arnade. Sentinel; 304 pages; $30 and £25

Over several years the author of this book, a former Wall Street trader, conducted thoughtful interviews in neglected communities across America, and took moving photographs of his subjects. The result is a quietly revelatory portrait of what he calls the country’s “back row”.

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago. By Alex Kotlowitz. Nan A. Talese; 304 pages; $27.95

Chicago has suffered 14,000 murders in the past two decades; overwhelmingly the victims are African‑American or Hispanic. This is an intimate and sympathetic depiction of several people involved in, and affected by, deadly crime. The killings seem senseless, but, says the author, the city can do more to grasp their causes.

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. By Anand Giridharadas. Knopf; 304 pages; $26.95. Allen Lane; £12.99

A timely polemic against philanthrocapitalism, which argues that supposedly do‑gooding companies merely offer sticking‑plaster solutions to social problems that they have helped create. Such efforts, the author says, do little to make up for a winner‑takes‑all philosophy that is holding down wages and transferring the burden of risk onto employees.

No Visible Bruises. By Rachel Louise Snyder. Bloomsbury; 320 pages; $28

It is the dark matter of violent crime: unseen but everywhere. This investigation into domestic violence in America blends harrowing testimony with persuasive recommendations on how to help victims and perpetrators. A book that manages to be both personal and panoramic, angry and hopeful.

Assad or We Burn the Country. By Sam Dagher. Little, Brown; 592 pages; $29 and £25

Although the horrors of Syria’s civil war are well documented, this chronicle by a Wall Street Journal correspondent still offers new insights into a struggle that has reshaped the Middle East. Many are based on his rare access to Manaf Tlass, a one‑time confidant of Bashar al‑Assad, who charts the accidental president’s metamorphosis into a blood‑soaked dictator.

The Light that Failed. By Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev. Pegasus Books; 256 pages; $26.95. Allen Lane; £20

When the Soviet Union collapsed and communism fell, the countries of eastern Europe set out to emulate Western democracies. But, as the authors of this perceptive book eloquently relate, their attitude to liberal democracy soured amid globalisation and the financial crisis—forces that also fed the rise of nationalism in the West. Russia, meanwhile, replaced Soviet rule with a revanchist autocracy.

Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to Today. Edited by James Banner junior. New Press; 512 pages; $29.99

In 1974 the special counsel to the impeachment inquiry commissioned a survey of presidential misconduct from Washington to Lyndon Johnson. Brought up‑to‑date with chapters on presidents from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, this useful study supplies the scales on which more recent wrongdoing can be weighed.

History

Say Nothing. By Patrick Radden Keefe. Doubleday; 464 pages; $28.95. William Collins; £20

Framed as an inquiry into the death of Jean McConville, a mother of ten who was abducted and murdered by the ira in 1972, this is a masterful exploration of the motives of terrorists, the stories they tell themselves and how they make the transition to peace—or, in some cases, fail to.

Remembering Emmett Till. By Dave Tell. University of Chicago Press; 312 pages; $25 and £19

A fine history of racism, poverty and memory in the Mississippi Delta told through the lynching of Emmett Till, a black 14‑year‑old from Chicago whose murder in 1955—and his mother’s determination to display his mutilated features in an open coffin—made him an early martyr of the civil‑rights movement.

Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre. By Kim Wagner. Yale University Press; 360 pages; $32.50 and £20

At least 379 people were killed by British soldiers in the Amritsar massacre on April 13th 1919, making that one of the darkest days in the history of the empire. On the event’s centenary, this book persuasively argues that it was less of an aberration than apologists for empire, including Winston Churchill, have chosen to believe.

Maoism: A Global History. By Julia Lovell. Knopf; 610 pages; $37.50. Bodley Head; £30

Mao Zedong was a despot who caused tens of millions of deaths; yet his name does not attract the same opprobrium as Hitler’s or Stalin’s. Indeed, his legend and ideas have inspired revolutionaries around the world. As the author of this book shows, his manipulated image retains a powerful allure in China and beyond. “Like a dormant virus”, she writes, “Maoism has demonstrated a tenacious, global talent for latency.”

The Regency Years. By Robert Morrison. W.W. Norton; 416 pages; $29.95. Published in Britain as “The Regency Revolution”; Atlantic Books; £20

“I awoke one morning and found myself famous,” Lord Byron, a Regency poet, once said. The period itself has suffered from the opposite problem—eclipsed by the more solemn and substantial Georgian and Victorian ones that preceded and followed it. Arguing that Britain truly started to become modern in the Regency era, this delightful book explains why it deserves to be better known.

How to be a Dictator. By Frank Dikötter. Bloomsbury; 304 pages; $28 and £25

What do Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Nicolae Ceausescu, Papa Doc Duvalier and Mengistu Haile Mariam have in common? This insightful handbook for gangsters is written by a distinguished historian of 20th‑century China.

Biography and memoir

An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent. By Owen Matthews. Bloomsbury; 448 pages; $30 and £25

Richard Sorge’s bravery and recklessness in the Soviet cause in Tokyo—where boozing and seduction were among his main espionage techniques—were matched by the venality and cowardice of his masters in Moscow. Despite their brutal incompetence, his intelligence helped turn the course of the second world war. A tragic, heroic story, magnificently told with an understated rage.

The Education of an Idealist. By Samantha Power. Dey Street Books; 592 pages; $29.99. William Collins; £20

An engaging insider’s account of foreign‑policymaking in what now seems like a different era of diplomacy. It describes the efforts of its author—Barack Obama’s Irish‑born ambassador to the United Nations—to juggle idealism with the realities of governing, while also juggling motherhood with the demands of representing America on the world stage.

Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century. By Sarah Abrevaya Stein. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 336 pages; $28

This history of the Levy family of Salonika follows its subjects through interwar Greece to the present day. It is a painstaking feat of reconstruction that draws on correspondence in Ottoman Turkish, Hebrew, French and especially Ladino, the language of Sephardic Jewry. Much of the clan was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943; those who survive are now spread across the globe. And yet, the author says, they retain a family resemblance.

The Last Stone. By Mark Bowden. Atlantic Monthly Press; 304 pages; $27. Grove Press; £16.99

True‑crime writers in America face a high bar, set by illustrious predecessors such as Truman Capote. The author of “Black Hawk Down” rises to the challenge in this reconstruction of how a horrific crime—the disappearance of two sisters from a mall in Maryland in 1975—was partially solved 40 years later. Dogged and ingenious interrogation of a mendacious suspect finally gets at the truth.

 

Economics

Good Economics for Hard Times. By Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. PublicAffairs; 432 pages; $30. Allen Lane; £25

The real meaning of this book by a Nobel‑prizewinning duo of economists lies in its method—a patient attempt to take on tough problems through empirical evidence. Known for pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the pair offer insights into thorny global issues ranging from inequality to corruption, all with refreshing humility.

Open Borders. By Bryan Caplan. Illustrated by Zach Weinersmith. First Second; 256 pages; $19.99. St. Martin’s Press; £15.99

An enlightened polemic in cartoon format, this book—by a team comprising an economics professor and an illustrator—persuasively rebuffs the arguments against migration commonly made by politicians. At the same time it shows how an accessible and respectful case can be made on a neuralgic subject.

Narrative Economics. By Robert Shiller. Princeton University Press; 400 pages; $27.95 and £20

The author, another Nobel laureate, explores how the public’s subjective perceptions can shape economic trends. The result is a sensible and welcome escape from the dead hand of mathematical models of economics.

Schism. By Paul Blustein. CIGI Press; 400 pages; $27.95. McGill‑Queen’s University Press; £27.99

A fascinating, detailed account of the history of tensions in America’s trade relationship with China. It explains the back story to today’s conflict—and reveals how difficult it will be to escape it.

Capitalism, Alone. By Branko Milanovic. Belknap Press; 304 pages; $29.95 and £23.95

A scholar of inequality warns that while capitalism may have seen off rival economic systems, the survival of liberal democracies is anything but assured. The amoral pursuit of profit in more liberal capitalist societies has eroded the ethical norms that help sustain openness and democracy, he argues; now that tendency threatens to push such places in the direction of more authoritarian capitalist societies, such as China.

Culture and ideas

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee. By Casey Cep. Knopf; 336 pages; $26.95. William Heinemann; £20

An ingeniously structured, beautifully written double mystery—one concerning the Reverend Willie Maxwell, who was accused of murdering five relatives for the insurance money in Alabama in the 1970s (before being fatally shot himself); the other, Harper Lee’s abortive efforts to write a book about the case. Tom Radney, a lawyer who is the story’s third main character, defended Maxwell—and his killer.

Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy. By Benjamin Balint. W.W. Norton; 288 pages; $26.95. Picador; £14.99

An account of the struggle over Kafka’s papers between competing archives in Israel and Germany—plus a woman who inherited them from a friend of his editor, Max Brod—which played out after most of the writer’s family had died in the Holocaust. A book about the provenance of art, and how much, in the end, it matters.

Underland: A Deep Time Journey. By Robert Macfarlane. W.W. Norton; 384 pages; $27.95. Hamish Hamilton; £20

A haunting examination of the world below the surface—a place that has always been envisioned as a zone of treasure and of dread. From the Paris catacombs to the soil of Epping Forest to caverns in remotest Norway, the author, a celebrated nature‑writer, re‑envisions the planet from the ground down.

Three Women. By Lisa Taddeo. Simon & Schuster; 320 pages; $27. Bloomsbury Circus; £16.99

Eight years of reporting went into this portrait of American sexuality from a female perspective. The author’s three subjects “stand for the whole of what longing in America looks like”; she spent time in their home towns to study their daily routines, jobs and, above all, their desires. With a novelist’s eye for detail, she captures the pain and powerlessness of sex, as well as its heady joys.

A Month in Siena. By Hisham Matar. Random House; 126 pages; $27. Viking; £12.99

The author’s life and writing have been shaped by his Libyan father’s kidnapping in 1990 by the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. In previous work he tried to uncover what happened; in this slim, bewitching book he finds answers, of a sort, by travelling to Siena. Meditating on art, history and the relationship between them, this is both a portrait of a city and an affirmation of life’s quiet dignities in the face of loss.

This is Shakespeare. By Emma Smith. Pelican; 368 pages; £20

A brilliant and accessible tour of Shakespeare’s plays that is also a radical manifesto for how to read and watch his work. Witty, irreverent and searching, this book, by a professor at Oxford University, shines dazzling new light on the oeuvre of the world’s greatest literary genius.

Fiction

Stalingrad: A Novel. By Vasily Grossman. Translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler. NYRB Classics; 1,088 pages; $27.95. Harvill Secker; £25

At last, the Russian novelist‑journalist’s mighty prequel to “Life and Fate”, his epic of the battle of Stalingrad and its aftermath, has received a definitive—and hugely powerful—English translation. A seething fresco of combat, domestic routine under siege and intellectual debate, it confirms that Grossman was the supreme bard of the second world war.

Ducks, Newburyport. By Lucy Ellmann. Biblioasis; 1,040 pages; $22.95. Galley Beggar Press; £14.99

The year’s unlikeliest literary triumph: a 1,000‑page fictional monologue delivered by a worried Ohio housewife and baker, much of which is made up of a single sentence. A prize‑garlanded novel that is funny, angry, erudite, profound—and full of great cake recipes.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. By Elif Shafak. Bloomsbury; 320 pages; $27. Viking; £14.99

The protagonist of this story is dead when it begins. The body of “Tequila Leila” has been dumped in a wheelie bin on the outskirts of Istanbul; yet, somehow, her mind remains active. While it does, she scrolls back through her life—a pained childhood, stalwart friends in adulthood—in a powerful, unflinching novel that, like all of the Turkish author’s work, is political and lyrical at once.

Homeland. By Fernando Aramburu. Translated by Alfred MacAdam. Pantheon; 608 pages; $29.95. Picador; £16.99

A monumental novel—and a bestseller in Spanish—which explores how eta’s terrorism divided families and lifelong friends in a claustrophobic Basque town. Empathetic but morally acute, this may be the definitive fictional account of the Basque troubles; it suggests that redemption is hard but not impossible.

The Volunteer. By Salvatore Scibona. Penguin Press; 432 pages; $28. Jonathan Cape; £16.99

This intricate novel spans decades and continents and incorporates multiple, looping stories. After being captured in Cambodia, Vollie returns to America and is dispatched to New York to conduct surveillance on a supposed renegade Nazi. This assignment will come to haunt him, too. “Who among us”, he asks, “has lived only once?” A searing yet poetic record of war and the lies people live by.

The Far Field. By Madhuri Vijay. Grove Press; 448 pages; $27 and £14.99

A courageous, insightful and affecting debut novel—and the winner of the prestigious jcb prize for Indian literature—which places a naive upper‑class woman from southern India in the midst of far messier realities in Kashmir. Along the way, the story challenges Indian taboos ranging from sex to politics.

Trust Exercise. By Susan Choi. Henry Holt; 272 pages; $27. Serpent’s Tail; £14.99

The title of this tricksy, beguiling novel, winner of a National Book Award, refers to the relationship between writer and reader, as well as to the bonding exercises undertaken by the theatre students in the story—and to the trust between teenage girls and predatory men. A tale of missed connections and manipulation, and of willing surrender to the lure and peril of the unknown.

Black Sun. By Owen Matthews. Doubleday; 320 pages; $26.95. Bantam Press; £16.99

Based on real events—the bid by Andrei Sakharov to develop a bomb to end all bombs—this story is set in a secret Soviet city in 1961. Featuring murder and betrayals, and a flawed but principled kgb man as its hero, it unfolds in the aftermath of Stalinism, amid the scars left by the purges, denunciations and Great Patriotic War. The prolific author (see Biography), a former Moscow correspondent, knows his terrain inside out.

 

Science and technology

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. By David Wallace‑Wells. Tim Duggan Books; 320 pages; $27. Allen Lane; £20

One of the most persuasive of the many books that spell out the consequences of climate change—and one of the most terrifying. As Earth moves beyond the conditions that allowed people to evolve, the author warns, “the end of normal” has arrived. Yet amid the rising seas, floods, fires, droughts and hurricanes, both current and impending, he remains optimistic about humanity’s ability to deal with the havoc it has caused.

The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder. By Sean McFate. William Morrow; 336 pages; $29.99

A former paratrooper and mercenary makes the case that the American armed forces are ill‑equipped for the conflicts of the 21st century. To keep the country safe, he contends, the top brass need to modernise their thinking, and respond to the information warfare that is now waged by their adversaries.

Good Reasons for Bad Feelings. By Randolph Nesse. Dutton; 384 pages; $28. Allen Lane; £20

A fascinating study of the evolutionary roots of mental illness. The author, a professor of psychiatry, argues that, in the right proportion, negative emotions may be useful for survival in a similar way to physical pain. Humans, he says, may have “minds like the legs of racehorses, fast but vulnerable to catastrophic failures”.

Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence. By James Lovelock with Bryan Appleyard. MIT Press; 160 pages; $22.95. Allen Lane; £14.99

In a brief but thought‑provoking book, the scientist who developed the “Gaia Theory” about the Earth’s life and climate—and who this year turned 100—predicts that cyborgs may eventually evolve to supplant carbon‑based humankind. But don’t despair: the robots, he suggests, might decide to keep people around as pets.

This article appeared in the Books and arts section of the print edition under the headline „Our books of the year“

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One company, two systems

Posted by hkarner - 1. Dezember 2019

Date: 28‑11‑2019

Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Alibaba sets its sights on Amazon

Anyone who is cursed with a rational mind should ponder Alibaba’s faith in eight, the luckiest single digit in China. On November 26th China’s e‑commerce juggernaut sold HK$88bn ($11.2bn) of secondary shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange under the stock symbol 9988—88 is not only a homonym for baba, but also signifies double luck. As soon as the gong was banged to launch trading, the shares soared from HK$176 to the auspicious price of HK$188. Luck was on Alibaba’s side. Nearby Pedder Street, where 19th‑century stockbrokers gathered to trade shares, has been a hotspot of anti‑China protests since early summer. On occasion, the smell of tear‑gas has wafted into the exchange. Yet after a landslide win for pro‑democracy parties in local elections earlier in the week, the chaos has—at least temporarily—subsided.

Luck aside, the listing provides the company with triple benefits. It wins brownie points with the Chinese government for demonstrating confidence in Hong Kong’s financial future amid the protests. It partially hedges its exposure to America, where it launched the biggest initial public offering of all time in 2014, but has recently suffered from trade‑war related turbulence. And it increases the accessibility of its shares to Asian institutional investors, who may be less inclined to view China through the prism of trade and geopolitical tensions. Soon it may be eligible for Stock Connect schemes that link Hong Kong with markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen, allowing mainland investors to pile in as well. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Egalitarianism: Inequality could be lower than you think

Posted by hkarner - 30. November 2019

Date: 28‑11‑2019

Source: The Economist

But there is plenty to do to make economies fairer

Even in a world of polarisation, fake news and social media, some beliefs remain universal, and central to today’s politics. None is more influential than the idea that inequality has risen in the rich world. People read about it in newspapers, hear about it from their politicians and feel it in their daily lives. This belief motivates populists, who say selfish metropolitan elites have pulled the ladder of opportunity away from ordinary people. It has given succour to the left, who propose ever more radical ways to redistribute wealth. And it has caused alarm among business people, many of whom now claim to pursue a higher social purpose, lest they be seen to subscribe to a model of capitalism that everyone knows has failed.

In many ways the failure is real. Opportunities are restricted. The cost of university education in America has spiralled beyond the reach of many families. Across the rich world, as rents and house prices have soared, it has become harder to afford to live in the successful cities which contain the most jobs. Meanwhile, the rusting away of old industries has concentrated poverty in particular cities and towns, creating highly visible pockets of deprivation. By some measures inequalities in health and life expectancy are getting worse. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Jeremy Corbyn’s political agenda is more radical than his economic one

Posted by hkarner - 30. November 2019

Date: 28‑11‑2019

Source: The Economist

Labour plans to redistribute power as well as income. That is more dangerous than it sounds

This is an age of political surprises. Donald Trump won the presidential election of 2016 after being treated as a no‑hoper. The Brexiteers won their referendum despite being dismissed as cranks. Jeremy Corbyn is now widely seen as a lost cause, particularly after a week in which the chief rabbi accused him of anti‑Semitism and a large poll suggested the Tories could win a majority of 68. But history could easily have another surprise up its sleeve.

What happens if Mr Corbyn defies expectations and enters Downing Street next month? Most people have focused on the economic consequences. Labour boasts that it will “rewrite the rules of the economy” and jack up public spending. But just as significant will be the political consequences. The party plans nothing less than what Tony Benn, Mr Corbyn’s mentor, called an “irreversible shift in the balance of power in favour of the working people”. The political revolution is in many ways more central to the Corbyn project than the economic one. Economics is only the means to remaking Britain’s political soul. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Management research is clear as mud

Posted by hkarner - 29. November 2019

Date: 28‑11‑2019

Source: The Economist: Bartleby

It is not fit for purpose, a new book argues

BEWARE THE guru with a theory that explains how companies behave or the perfect recipe for how firms succeed. Beware, too, the lengthy academic studies to similar effect. That is the stark warning of “Management Studies in Crisis: Fraud, Deception and Meaningless Research”, a new book by Dennis Tourish, a scholar of organisations at the University of Sussex.

The idea of “scientific management” dates back to Frederick Winslow Taylor, who wrote a treatise on it in 1911. One example invoked the Bethlehem Iron company, where he supposedly persuaded an employee named Schmidt (about whom Taylor was very condescending) to work harder by paying a piece rate. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Rethinking McKinsey: Disrupting the management priesthood

Posted by hkarner - 24. November 2019

Date: 21-11-2019
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

When businessmen talk to partners of McKinsey, the high priests of management consultancy, it is like Catholics going to confession. They reveal all. They expect confidentiality. And whether or not it changes behaviour, the act itself is good for the soul. In this era of corporate unease, over everything from the next recession to climate change, executives are lining up at the confessional. But McKinsey, too, has some soul-searching to do. Its industry, estimated to be worth $300bn, is, like those of its clients, being transformed. And as its most revered—and hermetic—standard bearer, it is under more scrutiny than ever before.

Kevin Sneader, who took over as global managing partner last year, has lots on his plate. Recent years have been uncomfortable. Until a decade ago no McKinseyite had ever been sued for securities-law violations. In 2012 its former managing partner, Rajat Gupta, was convicted of insider-trading committed after he left the firm. Then in 2016 McKinsey was embroiled in a scandal in South Africa after it worked with Trillian, a local consulting firm owned by an associate of the controversial Gupta family (no relation to Mr Gupta). Mr Sneader has repeatedly apologised. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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This year’s Nobel prizes prompt soul-searching among economists

Posted by hkarner - 24. November 2019

Date: 21-11-2019
Source: The Economist: Free exchange

The rise of randomised controlled trials looks to some like a retreat from the biggest questions

Nobel prizes are usually given in recognition of ideas that are already more or less guaranteed a legacy. But occasionally they prompt as much debate as admiration. This year’s economics award, given to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, was unusual both for the recency of the contributions it recognised and the relative youth of the recipients. (For a review of “Good Economics for Hard Times”, by Mr Banerjee and Ms Duflo, see Books and arts section.) Intentionally or not, it has inflamed arguments about the direction of the profession.

The prize, awarded in early October, recognised the laureates’ efforts to use randomised controlled trials (rcts) to answer social-science questions. In an rct, researchers assess the effect of a policy intervention by dividing participants into groups, only some of which are treated with the policy. This year’s winners used rcts to study the effectiveness of anti-poverty programmes in developing economies. To take one example, Mr Kremer suspected that poor health might depress learning by reducing school attendance. By using randomisation to set the schedule by which different schools’ pupils would be treated for intestinal worms, Mr Kremer and his co-author, Edward Miguel, learned that deworming improved health and attendance—but not test scores. Their work has been highly acclaimed, before the Nobel and after. But strikingly, given its practical success, it has also faced sustained criticism. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How machine learning is revolutionising market intelligence

Posted by hkarner - 24. November 2019

Date: 23-11-2019
Source: The Economist

The business of gathering market-sensitive information is ripe for automation

The thames seems to draw people who work on intelligence-gathering. The spooks of mi6 are housed in a funky-looking building overlooking the river. Two miles downstream, in a shared office space near Blackfriars Bridge, lives Arkera, a firm that uses machine-learning technology to sort intelligence from newspapers, websites and other public sources for emerging-market investors. Its location is happenstance. London has the right time zone, between the Americas and Asia. It is a nice place to live. The Thames happens to run through it.

Arkera’s founders, Nav Gupta and Vinit Sahni, both have a background in “macro” hedge funds, the sort that like to bet on big moves in currencies and bond and stock prices ahead of predicted changes in the political climate. The firm’s clients might want a steer on the political risks affecting public finances in Brazil, or to gauge the social pressures that could arise as a consequence of an austerity programme in Egypt. It applies machine learning to find market intelligence and make it usable. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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